Springfield City Council: Historic buildings demolished without proper clearance

Springfield City Attorney: Funding for the demolition comes from bond money

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Historic buildings are being knocked down in Springfield, and the City Council said it’s happening without the proper clearance. The issue here is who actually has the authority to approve the demolition of historic buildings.

The City Council is proposing a new ordinance to try and clarify. At a meeting Thursday night, City Councilor Bud Williams accused City Attorney Lisa DeSousa, Housing Director Geraldine McCafferty, and other officials of tearing down buildings without council approval.

Attorney DeSousa argued that the funding for the demolition comes from bond money specifically for demolition, not taxpayer dollars, so they didn’t technically need council approval. So far, three buildings have been torn down, the latest at 71 Thompson Street.

Now, the City Council is proposing the Housing Authority be required to try and save the buildings if financially possible. City Council President Michael Fenton told 22News, “This states that they can still tear it down, but only if they go through this process of trying to save it first.”

The City Council proposed using funds from the recently approved Community Preservation Act as a way to save the buildings.

Attorney DeSousa said there aren’t any immediate plans to tear down any other historic buildings.

No word yet on when the City Council will meet again to either approve or reject the proposal.